Why did you change the web content I wrote?

Recently Contented graduate Caitlin asked us for a short article about why web content had to be written a specific way. Her client truly couldn't understand why Caitlin wanted to rewrite what he had written. He couldn't see that his prose was long-winded, unfocused and difficult to read. His prose was a car going nowhere... except into a tree, perhaps. Or perhaps he thought that was OK on the Web, since he always wrote that way, and nobody had openly criticized his style until now.*

Well, I guess I've written books on that topic but possibly not a short article—not lately anyway. So what should you say to such a client?

Keep it simple or stun them with science. But whatever else you say, your trump card is the S-word: Search.

  1. Web readers decide within seconds whether to read or run away, so your main message has to jump right off the page and hit them in the eyeballs. Subtlety? Elaboration? Forget it, at least in the first 100 words.
  2. Search engines won't display your page unless it has enough of the right keywords in the right places. If it's not written by someone who understands how search engines work, nobody will read your web content because nobody will find it.

*This reminds me of certain terrifying drivers who claim smugly that they've never had an accident in 70 years... and take this as proof that their driving is safe.
Web writing skills: essential for career advancement

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